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James Buchanan -- the founder of the Public Choice School in economics -- has recently re-released his autobiography. Buchanan is responding to the argument put by the late Robert Staaf of Clemson University, that academic life is fraudulent, that all are engaged in a gigantic shell game aimed at the exploitation of the general public. Buchanan, of course, does not agree with Staaf but, more importantly, he also does not agree with the more common arguments for public funding of universities and public research. Adam Smith, an academic for most of his life, had a poor view of universities. The notion of fee-paying Australian students has met with much resistance from academics, academic unions and some political parties. Some might be tempted to argue that the Higher Education Contributions Scheme is indeed such a proposal. Although Australian universities have commercialized over the past 20 years, consumer sovereignty is still to be introduced.

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